When you approach 30 and your late twenties, you start to realize just how different life is than you ever thought it would be.

It seems like just yesterday when I was a fresh-eyed girl entering my twenties. I was in college and 30 seemed so far away. I had hopes and dreams for my 30-year-old self, but still couldn’t imagine that I would ever be that age.

Slowly the years started to tick away and each year I would get closer and closer to it. Now only six months away from entering a new decade, I started to realize how much has changed the past 10 years. Not only have I changed as a person, but also my views have changed, the way I party has changed; the dynamics in my social circles have changed. Everything is different from how things once were.

Now I realize that maybe turning 30 is not such a scary thing. If I learned and accomplished all that I did during this decade, who’s to say that I won’t get even more out of my thirties than I did my twenties?

Here are 8 things you realize as you start to approach 30:

1. Getting ID’d is the best feeling ever! Being as fresh faced as 20-year old is not as easy to come by the older we get. I know it is totally vain, but I love getting carded when I am at a bar. It reminds me that my age does not define my youth.

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2. Life doesn’t have to be what you pictured at 22 .When I was getting ready to graduate college my friends and I wrote down where we saw ourselves in 10 years. We each listed about 5-6 different things we wanted. The things I thought I would be doing are not even close to what I am doing now or want to be doing. I wanted to be a top PR executive now I want to be a teacher.

Basically, it is okay if your plans change. It just means you are growing as a person.

3. Slowing down is a good thing. I used to feel like I had to always be on the move and out at the coolest spots. Now I am not ashamed to admit I would take a night in with some wine and Netflix over a crazy night barhopping.

Slowing down and choosing your extra-curricular activities more wisely is good. It means you are putting thought into making the things you do in your life count.

4. Think before you act. I am not saying I was a daredevil or anything, but I would just go for it when life presented itself. Now I think about the consequences of my actions.

Will getting drunk before work be good? Should I drive like a crazy person to get somewhere faster? Will I hurt someone by doing this? My choices now reflect careful thought.

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5. Choosing the right people. This one I have talked about before. I love that I have people in my life who I care about who care about me. I don’t need quantity in my friends because I look for quality.

Always ask yourself how do they make my life better? If you can’t think of anything you probably do not need them as a friend.

6. What really matters. Back then, the coolest clothes, places, and cutest guy/girl were probably what mattered most. Whatever mattered then doesn’t really hold the same importance now. What really matters is being true to yourself. At this age you don’t give a shit about labels or what other people think.

All that really matters is how you see yourself and are you the kind of person you want to be.

7. Hangovers do exist and suck. This is a topic that comes up all the time now. Gone are the days when you could wake up after a long night of drinking and not feel the effects. You always think it is never going to happen to me… until it does.

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Now, recovering from a night out means a few days before you feel like yourself again. As it turns out, I don’t need to drink shots or get wasted. I like to enjoy my drinks and skip the hangover, thank you!

8. It’s okay not to be up on all the latest pop culture references or latest technology. Just because you don’t know how to use the latest app or pop culture references go over your head doesn’t mean you are not relevant — you just are part of a different generation now. Let’s leave it to the younger generations to worry about all that stuff.

Yes I still fear the unknown of getting older, but each day I learn to accept that 30 is not the end of life but rather the beginning of a new chapter. Hopefully a chapter filled with good stories and life changing events that will make it even better than my twenties.